March 17, 2005

The Upside of Anger – A Movie Review

Fabulously Written and Gloriously Executed
By Fred H. Arm

Upsidecostnerallen.jpgWhen you take time out to see a movie, it is always a great blessing when the film is cleverly written, seamlessly executed, and wonderfully acted. Such is the experience you take home when viewing “The Upside of Anger”.

One might have described the genre as a classic melodrama years ago when the term was used to characterize family dramas where women struggled with their situation or gave voice to once repressed desires. However, I would describe it as a comedy-drama with a wonderful mix of characters, plot, and extraordinary flow.

Galvanized by a wonderful and clever script, and stimulated by truly incredible performances by Joan Allen and Kevin Costner, “Upside of Anger” is a welcome and inspired account of a family struggling with the unexpected abandonment by the father of four girls. Writer/director Mike Binder deserves all the tribute the fans and critics will likely bestow upon him for this superbly rendered comedic drama, which is at once traditional and iconoclastic as well as absorbing and entertaining, as it is essentially human. It is a perfect blend of humor and sadness, consistent with real people that anyone can identify with. Each character is uniquely and expertly developed into several complex layers, each of which is interesting in its own right.

UpsideTwoGirlsGroup.jpg The tale commences when the alcoholic matriarch of a well to do Detroit family discerns that her husband has abandoned her thus leaving her to raise four determined daughters, all of who are in various stages of young adulthood. She feels lost being on her own, without any obvious means of support. Her angry, drunken rants fuel her already combative parenting style, and the story kicks off its comical meandering through a complex familial matrix when Costner, as a middle-aged, quirky yet real and perfectly lovable neighbor, makes a play for her attention. Mike Binder, who also is the director of this film, skillfully plays a character that at first you have to laugh at, later despise, and finally sympathize with as well as laugh at once more. The supporting cast, which includes Erika Christensen, Evan Rachel Wood, Keri Russell, and Alicia Witt, skillfully facilitate this exquisite interpretation of a family's emotional transformation to become one of the most pleasurable and surprisingly unpredictable romantic dramas I have seen in a very long time.
This clever and rare comedy should not be missed. Although the average American filmgoer may be disappointed with it's absence of car chases and gratuitous violence, the fine quality of the acting and the superb story may ultimately speak to the culturally deprived and vacuous mentalities that may hopefully mature and broaden their fertile minds.

Opens in the San Francisco Bay Area March 18th

Posted by fredarm at March 17, 2005 12:40 PM